What would the Persecuted Church Do?
This past week I have watched some intense debates between Christians. The two biggest ones were; “Should Christians Make Harlem Shake Videos?” and “Is it right for churches to play secular songs in their services?”
Now obviously I have an opinion about both of them, But I will come back to that thought. Because something terrible has happened and it has been weighing heavy on my heart since last weekend. In Lahore, Pakistan, a Christian village within the town was burned to the ground by radical Muslims. 160 homes, many business, and two churches were burned down.
We in the west do not understand persecution. Jesus told us we would face it. However for the western church, we think we are persecuted because Atheists make jokes and call us ignorant. Yes this is a form of persecution, but it is not the fullness of persecution. It is not the extent of persecution that the Apostles and the early church faced.
They were killed, beaten, shipwrecked, exiled, and more. Their lives were not just a bunch of people mocking them. They regularly faced Jail and angry mobs. We in the western world don’t understand what that is like. We have never had a mob hunt us down to try and burn us down. We have never been arrested for being Christian.
I want to share with you a testimony of Persecution. This is the testimony of what happened to Reverend Majed El Shafie.
He was arrested and confined in Abu Jaabel prison in Cairo, a place locals call “Hell on Earth,” he said. The government charged him with inciting a revolution, trying to change Egypt’s religion to Christianity and “worshiping and loving Jesus Christ.”
While they had him in custody, police tried to get him to name names. El Shafie refused.
“They told me, ‘If you want to play tough, we can play tough,'” he said.
Authorities took El Shafie to an underground portion of the prison and tortured him for seven days straight, he said, noting they shaved his head and held him under scalding hot then freezing cold water. He was hung upside down and beaten with belts, burned by cigarettes and had his toenails torn out.
In a final insult, he said prison guards tied him to a cross and left him there for two days.
“The only thing I could remember was the taste and smell of my own blood,” he said.
I have personally met and worked with believers who have experienced persecution themselves. In many other parts of the world, when you become a Christian you are immediately cut off from your family, and you become lower than low. But we in America don’t know about this. In America we are free to gather, we hold services in public, we have rallies to stand for our beliefs, sure we get mocked, and occasionally things get a little dangerous but on the whole, the American Church is Safe.
It is because of this safety that we can have stupid arguments with each other. We can discuss how church should be done. So, as I said, I want to come back to the original thought. When asked “Should Christians Make Harlem Shake Videos?” and “Is it right for churches to play secular songs in their services?” My heart is sad.
Think about it, if you asked Believers in Lahore, or Reverend Shafie, or the believers hiding in the Underground churches in China, what would they say? Would it even occur to them to to think about it?
They have to fight for the right to praise God. They value their bibles more than the rest of their possessions. I think if they heard the crazy questions we discuss in the western church, they would start training missionaries to come and evangelize us. When the Bible calls us a “Royal Priesthood and a Holy Nation.” We treat it like a quaint saying, but for most of the church world wide it isn’t an option its a reality. They are separated from normal life. They don’t conform to the culture around them, becuase that culture has kicked them out.
Can you imagine the underground believers in China going all Gangnam Style?
We in the west are far too tight with the world. Myself included. I am not saying music is bad, movies are evil, and sports are a ticket to hell. Don’t think that, but what I am saying is that The Church is supposed to be a Holy Place, a city on a hill where Christ can be seen. We are supposed to be a temple where the Holy Ghost is on full display.
I think if we sat down and looked over our lives, and possibly our churches and asked ourselves this question; “What would the persecuted church do?” A lot of us would be different. People repeatedly mentioned in the conversation about secular music, “We want the unbelievers to feel comfortable in our church.”
WHAT? The church should never be comfortable, it should be a place of encounter with the Lord. I am not saying we should make unbelievers feel unwelcomed, but we shouldn’t cater services to make them comfortable. If they are comfortable in the church how is the church different than starbucks or the club.
When an unbeliever comes into the church they should see REAL PEOPLE who LIVE DIFFERENTLY. They should notice a difference between the world and the Church. If they don’t are we really a Royal Priesthood or have we become a community club.
So I ask myself, and I ask you, “What would the Persecuted church do?”
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope you are blessed, challenged, and encouraged by it. Comments, Questions, etc… Always welcome, but keep it clean and Kind.